With the recent announcement of the new, more physically challenging Army Combat Fitness Test (https://www.army.mil/article/208189/) (ACFT), thousands of soldiers are getting a chance to test their mettle. Beginning October 2020, all soldiers will be required to take the new gender and age-neutral test. Before that, field testing began in October 2018 to allow the Army to refine the test, with initial plans for up to 40,000 soldiers from all three components to see it.
"The purpose of ACFT, first and foremost, is to make sure our soldiers are ready for the rigors of combat," Army Secretary Mark Esper told Military.com. "We do have to sort through all the policies that come with a physical fitness test. I will tell you though ... at the end of the day, if you can't pass the Army Combat Fitness Test, then there is probably not a spot for you in the Army."
Because it is a radical departure from the previous Army fitness test, the ACFT requires soldiers to strengthen those muscles that may not have been used for years. It also involves getting used to the equipment, such as kettlebells, 10-pound balls, 90-pound sleds and the other testing equipment.
In response to the changes in the Army fitness test, Rally Fitness has developed an Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment Package. This package was developed by Rally Fitness, a company known for its rugged CrossFit and high-use fitness facilities, to help soldiers train for the test and test administrator to assess the fitness of these soldiers.
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Even veteran soldiers, who work out regularly, are challenged by this new Army test. According to this article, Staff Sgt. Rebecca Alvarez, a 31-year-old military police NCO at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, was one of hundreds of soldiers who volunteered for the pilot test with no knowledge of the events.
"I was already in shape because I was a drill sergeant. So, I knew that I was going to perform well," said Alvarez, who now works in the S3 shop with 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment, supporting the basic training companies at Leonard Wood. "For me personally, the event that was the most challenging was the standing power throw, only because I didn't really know what part to exert my energy on, at what phase of motion; it was just a little awkward."
Those college students who may have put on the “Freshman 15” and are members of the ROTC will soon be shedding some of those pounds as they begin training for the new Army fitness test.
According to the Army’s website, Maj. Gen. John Evans, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, said he wanted to provide his ROTC instructors an opportunity to see and experience the possible challenges the new test will bring with it.
"Our soldiers need to be more fit and more lethal. The legacy Army Physical Fitness Test was not encouraging or motivating us to train the right way. This test incorporates a total body fitness aspect, it works all of the muscle groups required for combat tasks. So it really replicates some of the challenges that we have seen soldiers go through over the last 17 years of combat," he explained. " It's really a combination of what we've learned over the past 30 or 40 years from a physiological standpoint, taking those things we know Soldiers are going to have to do in combat, and combining those to build a training regimen that will support better overall fitness."
"What we are trying to do with the test is drive a culture of fitness in the Army. It's not changing the test for the test's sake -- it's changing the test so that we can drive change toward fitness," Evans added. "We are trying to change the culture, which is extremely important for Cadet Command because we are the people who bring in the bulk of the Army's officer force."
“This test is about how well you do against the Army standard”
According to Michael McGurk, director of research for the Center of Initial Military Training, the organization overseeing the new ACFT, when Army leaders announced that the ACFT would do away with gender and age scoring, "It kind of gave a wake-up call to everybody,"
“When you go in harm's way,” McGurk said, “The standard in combat is the standard for everybody. The old test, because it was normative-based data and male and female and aged, it was basing you on how well you do against your compatriots, your peers. This new test isn't about how well you do against your peers. This test is about how well you do against the Army standard."
The Army recently published the "Field Test Manual, Army Combat Fitness Test" and the "Army Combat Fitness Training Guide" to help leaders and soldiers understand how the ACFT will be administered and how best to prepare to meet the standard.
The test manual addresses the upcoming ACFT field test, involving 60 battalions, to finalize the test standards, uniform, preparation, equipment lists, event procedures and grading guidance.
The training guide offers soldiers alternative exercises to prepare for the ACFT to help strengthen the muscles needed for each event.
The Rally Fitness Army Combat Fitness Test Equipment Package has everything needed for this new test, and it is priced right at $2,498.00. Click here to order.